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LG G4: hands-on review

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LG G4: hands-on review

Last week LG announced its latest flagship phone, in the form of the G4.

How does the G4 set itself apart from its predecessor, aka the phone that ushered in the QuadHD revolution?

What sort of killer features are onboard that might warrant an upgrade? And is LG finally ready to mix it with the boys at the top end of the smartphone market?

Read on for all the gen. Or head to the foot of the page for our video hands-on.

First impressions and design

lg g4 front packshot

On first looks, the LG G4 is very close in appearance to the highly rated G3. But it's the subtle changes that make all the difference.

The rear of the phone is certainly more eye-catching than its predecessor, with a double stitched, genuine leather outer.

It could, quite literally, be taking a note from the Samsung Galaxy Note, or the Motorola Moto X.

As far as colour options go, there are plenty to choose from. But it seems that some of the more popular colourways will be exclusive to certain networks and retailers.

O2 will exclusively be selling the brown leather version, for instance. While Carphone Warehouse has got sole rights to sell the black leather iteration.

The G3's new design also features ever-so-subtle curve, making it more of a comfortable fit in the hand and helps LG's latest stand out from rivals.

It's not a huge arc, unlike the G Flex phone, nor is it flexible. However, it is said to make the handset 20% more durable than standard flat phones.

LG has stuck with the same screen size as the G3, coming in at 5.5-inches. But unlike HTC and Sony's 'new' phones, it hasn't just recycled the same screen from its 2014 flagship.

lg g4 back

The G3's QuadHD LCD Quantum screen has been tweaked for better colour and brightness. The result is that it ostensibly shows 20% more colour than the G3's display and is 25% brighter.

These improvements are noticeable, but only really when viewing pictures and video. That said, this is where you really want to see the improvements and not while flipping through the phone’s OS screens.

Running against prevailing trends, the G3 features a removable battery and microSD card slot. Unsurprisingly, given that these are missing from the likes of Apple and Samsung handsets, LG is happy to talk these up as among the G3's USPs.

The decision to keep the removable battery was apparently in response to a consumer survey, with LG fans choosing it over a thinner handset.

We share their sentiment. Although if we're honest, it's shame that it's come to pass that a removable battery is a USP rather than a standard feature.

Software

lg g4 official leak

Android 5.1 is the OS of choice on the G4, with a new user interface called UX 4.0 over the top that matches the 'material design' of the Google platform.

That said, LG has still put it own stamp on the platform with a bespoke interface elements and has removed facets of Android that are present in Motorola and Nexus handsets.

New additions include swiping to the left of the home screen to bring up 'smart bulletin'. This shows you the 'most used' features of the phone and offers some scope for personalisation.

Offering users easier access to key features is something we have seen before on other mobiles, but in this case appears to be an extension of the 'smart cards' from the G3. Think: Google Now, only more localised to the phone.

Going down that personalisation route a little deeper is ringtone ID. This feature means the phone can automatically create an individual ringtone for your contacts. The result is that each incoming call sounds different, so you know who is calling.

It's not leaps and bounds above other UIs, but it's simpler and neater than what we have seen in the past.

Features

lg g4 camera

LG has updated its camera features on the G4, making the G3's snapper look very basic in comparison.

Its 16-megapixel camera does take a good shot, especially in low light, thanks to its F1.8 aperture. According to LG, this brings in 80% more light than its predecessor. And after extensively using the G3 last year, we really did notice the difference.

The camera is coupled with a colour spectrum sensor, which LG claims results in more natural colours that are closer to what the eye can naturally see.

On top of that there are a suite of options that would appease professional photographers.

The camera's manual mode has everything from adjustable shutter speeds to selectable ISO levels. And you get options for RAW image. All of which is a far cry from what was on the offer with the G3.

LG has added an eight-megapixel camera at the front for selfies, which enables you to capture shots with a two-second interval.

This is intended to solve the problem of grabbing that perfect selfie from a number of pics.

With the megapixel count no longer meaning a great deal, these little improvements could make all the difference.

Usability

lg g4 colours

We found the G4 nippy when running through menus, launching apps quickly and offering a good, all-round experience. And for that we can thank Qualcomm's beefy processor.

Perhaps surprisingly given the chipsets favoured by rival phone-makers for their recent handsets, it's not an Octa-core CPU that's on board.

Instead, the LG has included the less sinewy 808 Snapdragon, which features six cores.

Going down this route might have been used to cut costs, translating savings to the buyer. However, Qualcomm claims it worked closely with LG to optimise the G3 for the 808 Snapdragon chipset.

For example: the camera app can be started and a picture taken from a double tap of the rear button. This was said to be down to teaming up with Qualcomm.

These sort of neat touches how much thought LG has put into the G4, rather than just trying to keep up with what the Joneses have to offer.

Verdict

The G3 sees LG attempt to pair form with functionality with a leather backed, curved phone.

It has listened to the market. And in response has included the sort of features the public really wants in a new phone, while still making room for a camera that would appease professional snappers.

All in all, the G4 isn't a big shift from the G3. But perhaps that's to be expected given that pretty much all recent smartphones have been about evolution and not revolution.

We are seeing this with the HTC One M9 being a slight improvement on the One M8, and Sony is surely set to offer a slightly improved phone over the Z3.

Only time will tell if this approach is right for LG. And whether this is enough to make consumers choose LG devices over those from Samsung and Apple.

Key specs

  • 5.5" IPS LCD QuadHD capacitive touchscreen
  • 16-megapixel camera with F1.8 aperture and dual-LED flash
  • 32GB storage, expandable by up to 128GB via microSD
  • Li-ion 3000 mAh battery (removable)
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Processor with X10 LTE
Category: News
Tagged: lg g4, handsets

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